Long Beach City Council votes to approve a moratorium on evictions related to Covid-19 during special meeting

The City Council also voted to approve a temporary homeless shelter at the former North Neighborhood Library.

Image courtesy Flickr

At its March 24 special meeting, the Long Beach City Council held a joint meeting with the Long Beach Housing authority to vote on the moratorium on evictions, and voted to lease out the former North Neighborhood Library as a temporary shelter.

Moratorium on evictions

In an attempt to supply relief to Long Beach residents who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Long Beach City Council voted to approve a prohibition on evictions due to lack of payment.

The new moratorium will have a sunset date of May 31 and is only applicable for tenants who are unable to pay rent between March 4 and May 31.

The new ordinance will require tenants to provide notification and documentation to their landlord that they have suffered a severe loss of wages or hours due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, tenants will have to notify homeowners of their inability to pay within three days of a three-day notice to pay or quit resulting from non-payment.

The moratorium only covers rent that becomes due between March 4, the day Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state emergency, and May 31.

As of now, the ordinance is set to sunset on May 31. At the end of the ordinance, renters will have until Nov. 30, 2020, to become current on any past rent that was not paid during this period.

One of the main points of the discussion was whether to include language in the ordinance about tenants paying reduced rent or partial payments.

Deputy City Attorney Rich Anthony stated that the ordinance does not prohibit renters from paying in partial payments and that they should feel incentivized to pay what they can.

“This is not a rent holiday,” Anthony said. “So, to the extent that [tenants] don’t pay rent that they […] could pay, they’re only putting off the inevitable and they’re going to have to pay it in the future.”

The council eventually decided to encourage renters to pay what they can but chose not to include language asking renters to pay smaller portions of their rent out of fear that some tenants would be penalized if they are unable to pay.

Temporary Shelter

The City Council voted to adopt a resolution that would set up a temporary shelter for homeless residents from the United States Veterans Initiative shelter due to the need for social distancing.

The resolution would allow the City to suspend zoning ordinances and regulations and declare a temporary emergency shelter for the period of April 1, 2020, through September 30, 2020.

Under the agreement, the City will lease the former North Neighborhood Library at 5571 Orange Avenue to the United States Veterans Initiative, a nonprofit, to allow them to relocate a portion of their beds to accommodate proper social distancing standards.

The winter shelter currently operates at 1718-1722 Hayes Avenue but is unable to maintain the recommended six feet of distance between persons.